In the food sector, vertical growing companies like Plenty, Aerofarms, Gotham Greens, and many more, are revolutionizing agriculture. But in the cannabis industry, which practically invented sunless growing, there has been notably less activity.
Two Types of Vertical Farming
This is partly because high-pressure sodium lights (HPS), one of the most common lights used to grow cannabis for decades, run so hot that plants have to be many feet away to stay unharmed.
“The main catalyst behind cannabis cultivation going vertical is the improved performance of LED lighting,” says Thomas Rogers, LED engineer of Exact Lux. “Cannabis growers are approaching us wanting the most powerful multi-tier or ‘vertical farm’ lighting systems possible.”
In essence, vertical growing provides more cannabis, lower bills, and greater efficiency. Nonetheless, it is not a ‘perfect’ system by any means.
STEM Cultivation is one of the leading lights in the process of true vertical cannabis growing. They use it in conjunction with the Sea of Green (SOG) technique. The company claims it can yield five times the grams of bud per square foot of growing space than a typical indoor setup. Moreover, they do it for a fraction of the start-up and operating expenses.
The Cons of Growing Marijuana Vertically
Despite the many advantages, not everyone is convinced that vertical farming is cost-effective in the long-term. Those operating on the fringes know they are in a precarious position with lots of competitors. They are unwilling to take the risk in case it doesn’t work out. It only takes one bad harvest for certain businesses to unravel.
Now imagine, trying to monitor such changes in a 10,000 square feet space! Some growers only use one or two temperature and humidity sensors in large spaces, a wholly inadequate practice. STEM has a temperature sensor for every 100 cubic feet of space! It measures humidity, temperature, CO2 levels, and much more.
The Pros of Growing Marijuana Vertically
In practice, however, it is expensive to begin due to the prohibitive cost of equipment. Vertical marijuana farming is only suitable for those cultivating weed on an industrial scale. Perhaps these companies can afford the start-up costs, and the time and effort required to maintain their crops.
As for airflow, simply push your air down the open areas of your racking system while pulling it out from the other end. This method is similar to small greenhouses known as hoop-houses.
We’ll be honest, vertical farming is not for the faint of heart – it takes commitment, passion, and skill. This production method is a change of pace for many growers. But luckily, there is enough automation and quality equipment on the market that these systems have become more plug-and-play than ever before. So what are you waiting for? It’s time to get growing!
BarLight Targeted (Pink) Spectrum (above) and BarLight Hybrid (White) Spectrum (Below)
Starting a vertical cannabis farm is a great way to double down on your grow facility and expand your business.
Step 2 – Select Your LED Grow Lights
So, for indoor cannabis operations that want to expand their business, growing up can be quicker than growing out.
In the early days of cannabis, the illegality of the plant forced farmers to grow their buds indoors. Fast-forward to today and we still see lots of growers setting up grow rooms in warehouses.
Just make sure that you pick reliable lighting equipment. Hanging so much electrical in a confined space requires bullet-proof engineering that you trust.
Step 3 – Dial-In Your Environmental Controls
When sourcing your vertical system, make sure to consider irrigation pressure, drainage, and electrical. You’ll also have to choose between rolling or stationary racks. We recommend rolling for ease-of-use, but if you do choose stationary make sure there’s room for your employees to work.
Your vertical grow system, also known as vertical racking or simply “racks”, is a great place to start. Any quality vertical grow system generally comes standard as a 4-foot by 8-foot palletized rack.